PA under growing pressure to end security coordination with Israel

Palestinians are urging Palestinian Authority officers to engage IDF troops.

Members of the Palestinian security forces clash with demonstrators during a protest organised by Hizb-ut Tahrir against what organisers say are political arrests by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Hebron February 25, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)
Members of the Palestinian security forces clash with demonstrators during a protest organised by Hizb-ut Tahrir against what organisers say are political arrests by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank city of Hebron February 25, 2017.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MUSSA QAWASMA)

The Palestinian Authority is facing widespread criticism from its populace for failing to order its security forces to engage IDF soldiers who enter Palestinian cities, as part of Israel’s security crackdown in response to the recent wave of terrorist attacks.

Many Palestinians have also renewed their call to the PA to immediately halt security coordination between the Palestinian security forces and the IDF.

The killing and arrest of some of the gunmen by Israeli security forces over the past few weeks was the direct result of the security coordination, they claimed.

The Palestinian Central Council, the PLO’s second-highest decision-making body, passed a resolution in February to suspend security coordination with Israel until it recognizes a Palestinian state. The resolution, the second of its kind in the past four years, has been ignored by the PA leadership.

A Palestinian political analyst said on Tuesday that the growing pressure and criticism from the Palestinian street could prompt some PA security officers to get involved in clashes with the IDF.

 Palestinian gunmen take part in the funeral of two Palestinians who were shot dead by Israeli security forces  during clashes, during their funeral in Jenin, in the West Bank, March 31, 2022.  (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90) Palestinian gunmen take part in the funeral of two Palestinians who were shot dead by Israeli security forces during clashes, during their funeral in Jenin, in the West Bank, March 31, 2022. (credit: NASSER ISHTAYEH/FLASH90)

“At the beginning of the Second Intifada, we saw that Palestinian policemen were involved in the armed clashes in some parts of the West Bank,” said the Ramallah-based analyst. “We also saw similar clashes in 1996 after Israel opened the Western Wall Tunnel.”

But a senior PA official said there was no reason to believe that the Palestinian security forces would become embroiled in the clashes with the IDF.

“We are working to calm the situation, not escalate tensions,” the official said. “The current Israeli military activity in Jenin and other places in the West Bank has already caused many casualties. Israel’s practices are undermining the Palestinian Authority and harming its credibility among the people.”

The official strongly dismissed allegations that the PA security forces have been helping Israel track down Palestinian gunmen and activists wanted by the IDF.

A PA security officer tried to carry out a shooting attack inside the Vered Jericho settlement in the Jordan Valley earlier this week, KAN News reported on Monday night. According to the report, the officer was arrested by the PA security forces.

In another incident earlier this week, two Israeli men were shot and wounded while approaching Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus. The circumstances of the incident were under investigation, the IDF said. The two were shot by PA policemen, according to unconfirmed reports.

Palestinians later reported that the IDF had arrested Azmi Mansour, an officer with the PA’s National Security Force in Nablus. It was unclear, however, whether the arrest was connected to the shooting of the two men.

Some activists belonging to the ruling Fatah faction headed by PA President Mahmoud Abbas boasted that the Palestinian security forces were responsible for the shooting of the two Israelis.

This was designed to send a message to the Palestinian public that contrary to the allegations, the PA security forces are actively involved in preventing the IDF and “extremist settlers” from entering Palestinian cities.

But many Palestinians remain skeptical of such claims.

Maher al-Akhras, a senior official with Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, was quoted as saying the Palestinians who were killed in the Jenin area were victims of the security coordination between the PA security forces and the IDF.

In an interview with the Hamas-affiliated Al-Resalah news site, he accused the PA and its security forces of working to “serve the interests of the occupation.”

Akhras said he and other Palestinians who were previously arrested by the PA security forces later found that their “files” were in the hands of the Israeli security forces.

Another PIJ official from the Jenin area, Khader Adnan, said the PA security forces were continuing the crackdown on his organization’s men. He and other activists renewed the appeal to the PA to halt the security coordination with Israel and stop chasing Palestinian gunmen.

During the funeral of 17-year-old Mohammed Zakarneh, who was shot dead by soldiers in Jenin earlier this week, Palestinians chanted slogans denouncing both Israel and Palestinian “collaborators,” an implicit reference to the PA security forces.

Over the past few days, many Palestinians took to social media platforms to condemn the security coordination, and to urge the PA security forces to defend Palestinians against IDF “incursions” into Palestinian cities.

“We are pinning high hopes on the honorable men in the Palestinian security services in the West Bank,” wrote activist Ahmed Abu Nasr of the Gaza Strip. “They need to free themselves from the security coordination and unite with the resistance of their people.”

Other activists called on Muslim scholars to issue a fatwa (Islamic religious ruling) prohibiting security coordination with Israel.

“Aren’t Jenin and its refugee camp under the control of the Palestinian Authority?” asked Sameeh Dawas, another activist. “Where are the thousands of [Palestinian] security men? Why aren’t they standing up to the Zionist soldiers?”

Said another activist, Ziyad Atawneh: “The Palestinian people are facing two occupations – the Zionist occupation and the occupation of the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination.”